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The US Department of Labor has funded a new project, the National Clean Slate Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse’s mission is to foster record-clearing of criminal records around the country. The Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG) is leading the project and is preparing many resources, including state-specific information about record-clearing that will be made available on a powerful website. Community Legal Services (CLS), is the project’s liaison to the legal aid, defender, non-profit and pro bono communities.
Who are we?
CLS was one of the first legal aid programs to represent people with criminal records, starting in the 1990s. Our general employment law practice receives over a thousand client requests per year to address criminal record barriers. We developed a broad range of remedies in the employment area, including race discrimination charges against employers, Fair Credit Reporting Act lawsuits against background screeners, litigation to challenge restrictive state occupational laws, communications, and much more. Working with the National Employment Law Project, we have provided training and technical assistance to the non-profit field about these remedies for years.
In recent years, CLS has grown a large expungement practice. Based on client demand, expungement is one of our highest priorities, because if employers don’t have criminal record information about job applicants, they will not use it to disqualify those workers (legally or not). We host 8-10 expungement clinics in the community each year. CLS has also expanded the scope of our record-clearing efforts through the development of expungement petition-building software that we call the Expungement Generator; developed a legislative concept for automatic sealing through computer query known as Clean Slate; and prepared amicus briefs about the value of record-clearing to support broad readings of expungement statutes. The attached recent article from the MIE Journal describes the development of CLS’s expungement practice, as well as that of Maryland Legal Aid.
Services that we hope to provide
CLS will work with lawyers around the country to encourage development f new record-clearing practices and foster those that already exist. Some projects that we have in mind include the following.
We also hope to provide more training and webinars to the field in Years 2 and 3, federal funding willing.
Feedback that we need from you
The National Clean Slate Clearinghouse is a project of The Council of State Governments Justice Center, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, the National Juvenile Defender Center, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities.